But her focus changed after a study abroad trip to Nicaragua with Tidewater Community College. She joined Mary Pat Liggio, former coordinator of the Women’s Center, and retired professor Barbara Johnson on a life-altering journey.
The group focused on women’s issues and visited community service organizations in rural locations throughout the country. “I learned about women in developing nations and the challenges they face, and how they work together to make life better,” Reed-Lofton says. “I also found my passion in life, which is to serve.”
A native of Providence, R.I, Reed-Lofton came to Hampton Roads to attend a local university. “After a rough start, I found my calling at TCC,” she says. “I took a Women’s Studies class as a humanities elective just because it fit in my schedule. And there I found my purpose.”
Reed-Lofton went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from Old Dominion University and is at work on a second bachelor’s in human service counseling.
“I was the first in my family to go to college, so I was so grateful for the support provided by TCC’s Women’s Center,” she says.
At work as a counselor at the YWCA South Hampton Roads crisis shelter, Reed-Lofton adds, “I knew I was in the right job, because my work was helping women with some very serious issues. During that time, I had an experience that will remain with me forever.
“A young girl came in with her mother. After we served them, the daughter told me she was happy to know about us, so when she is grown up, she’ll know where to come. It floored me to think about this young girl assuming that her life would include periods of abuse.
“I was in tears for days. But the experience solidified my life’s goal of reaching girls before the bottom drops out of their lives.”
Reed-Lofton parlayed that experience into a position with Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, where she is a program specialist for teens. She helps girls develop healthy lifestyles, self-esteem and leadership skills.
“We visit colleges and talk about life goals and serve the communities where we live,” Reed-Lofton says. “My goal is to develop a holistic program to empower girls for every aspect of their lives.”
Married in 2010, Reed-Lofton notes, “This is personal for me now, as I have a 13-month-old daughter, and I want to pave the way for her.”
Reed-Lofton hopes to one day own and operate a nonprofit that serves girls in at-risk populations.
“I want to help them develop and grow — to handle peer pressure with grace and seek a better life for themselves and later their children. And to encourage education and training to make a very real difference in girls’ lives.”